Annette Herbener has spent a lifetime in tennis. She loves the sport, everything about it, except one thing – matches.
“I never play fixtures,” said the Rothwell resident. “I did once …. that was enough.”
Social tennis is Mrs Herbener’s passion at Redcliffe Tennis Centre, where she has run the Friday sessions for 21 years, works in the canteen and is a committee member.
However, her family’s connection goes back much further. Mrs Herbener took over from her mum Daphne Boyes who ran the sessions from 1959-2000.
Before Mrs Boyes it was her sister (Mrs Herbener’s aunt) Shirley Langsdor who started the Friday socials in 1953 on a court at the old fire station in Oxley Ave.
“I can’t imagine what I’d have done without tennis,” Mrs Herbener, 70, said, “you meet so many different people.
“It’s a sport you can do as a kid and later in life. We get between 10 and 18 players (on Fridays), purely to play and enjoy the company.”
Mrs Herbener started playing tennis at the age of seven when the Redcliffe club was just four courts on land where the council chambers now stand.
Her sister Colleen Butler played night fixtures at the same venue at a time when the peninsula had around 34 tennis courts for public use.
Both followed their parents into the sport and Mrs Herberner was often among 100 youngsters at Saturday morning lessons.
Remarkably, Gail Simmons, who was also at those Saturday lessons, still plays with Mrs Herbener 60 years later, on Fridays, at Redcliffe Tennis Centre in Oxley Ave.
It is little surprise three of Mrs Herbener’s children were line judges in their younger days and her sons operated the scoreboard at the historic Milton Tennis Centre in Brisbane.
Daughter Cheryl Jenkins has been officiating around the world for 30 years and in 2019 became the first female Chief Umpire of the Australian Open.
She has also worked at Wimbledon, the US Open and French Open as well as Olympics, Commonwealth Games and the Brisbane International.
Mrs Herbener’s husband Ed was President of Redcliffe Tennis Centre and a key figure in the upgrades which transformed it into today’s 12-court venue.
He was also a linesman at the Australian Open for 18 years and on retiring from that role became a referee at tournaments in Queensland.
One of his work colleagues offered Mrs Herbener a job driving tennis stars around when they came to Brisbane for major tournaments.
“It was to the hotels and back to Milton, that sort of thing,” Mrs Herbener said, “the last few years it was also to Boondall. Pat Cash was one of them.”
You can also add to that list the likes of Slobadan Ivanovic, Grant Connell, Brad Dyke, John Fitzgerald, Leyton Hewitt and Todd Woodbridge.